Isthmic spondylolisthesis

Isthmic spondylolisthesis is a condition in which a vertebra slips over the top of another one in the spine, appearing to hang over the lower vertebra. Unlike congenital or degenerative spondylolisthesis, isthmic spondylolisthesis is not a condition that a person is born with, and it is not due to aging. Rather, this condition is caused by fractures in the spine, usually due to sports injuries stemming from overuse or trauma to the back. Oftentimes, this condition started in childhood and simply did not cause symptoms until adulthood when it became more severe.

Recovery tips

Recovery from isthmic spondylolisthesis can be helped by:

  • Rest
  • Strength training
  • Cardiovascular exercise
  • Weight loss
  • Stretching
  • Eating a healthy diet

This condition is most commonly found in the lower (or lumbar) region of the back. While most cases of spondylolisthesis do not cause any symptoms, more severe cases can cause symptoms including pain, tenderness, muscle spasms, stiffness and more.

Treatments for isthmic spondylolisthesis

Treatments available to help make recovering from isthmic spondylolisthesis more bearable include:

  • Steroid injections
  • Painkillers
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines
  • Physical therapy
  • Braces
  • Surgery

Conservative, nonsurgical treatments should always be attempted first before considering surgery. If your symptoms from isthmic spondylolisthesis do not improve significantly after weeks or months of using conservative treatments, your physician may then recommend surgery. Spinal fusion is a common surgery option for this condition; however, it is a highly invasive surgery with a large, sometimes exhausting, recovery period.

Laser Spine Institute offers an effective alternative to traditional spinal fusion through our multiple minimally invasive stabilization (MIS) procedures. These outpatient procedures accomplish the same goals as traditional spinal fusion but offer many advantages, such as smaller incisions, lower complication and infection rates and a much shorter recovery period.^ In fact, our minimally invasive spine surgery is often the clinically appropriate first choice over open back surgery.

For more information on recovering from isthmic spondylolisthesis, treatments for the condition and the minimally invasive procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute, contact us. We’ll have one of our knowledgeable staff review your most recent MRI or CT scan and let you know if you’re a candidate for one of our state-of-the-art, outpatient procedures.